I run an after school Creative Writing class at my school. I have four students and we meet Mondays from 3:15pm to 4:15pm. We meet in the library and, last Monday, the librarian had to leave early so she asked me to lock up. As she left, she turned to me and said, “Juan, you’re in charge. Take care of the books.”
I’ve locked up the library before but that was before I learnt that she’s retiring. And, the last time I locked up, I had a full class and the five of us walked out together. This time, however, only one of my four turned up and he had to leave fifteen minutes early. Already committed to being there, I decided to remain and do some writing of my own for another half an hour or so.
When I decided to go, I had to shut a window, turn off three electric fans and make sure the door was locked. It’s silly - maybe - but I felt the spirit of Mr. Lessmore as I did what was tasked of me. Libraries are already quiet places but with the doors shut, the noise from the fans gone and with no one else in the room or even in the school’s hallways, the silence seemed even quieter. To be honest, that kind of dominating silence has, in other situations, intimidated and even scared me. This time, I felt safe. It was like I was among friends. And, of course, as corny as this is going to sound, my friends were the books. That’s when and how I felt like I was playing the role of Mr. Lessmore. The librarian had left and, albeit briefly, I was in charge of the books that surrounded me.
With that duty, that responsibility, I couldn’t help but smile.
If you don’t know who Mr. Lessmore is read and watch The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It’s by William Joyce and is, for me, the quintessential piece of work that defines every lover of books. It’s a beautiful story that is about how important reading AND writing are and how important it is to cherish what has been written and to share it; that books can - and do - literally and figuratively shape and colour our lives.
So, for a brief moment last Monday, I got to be a kind of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I got to be the hero in one of my favourite books.
When was the last time your life imitated art or made you think that you were playing a part in a book, movie, play, painting; whatever it is that you’d recently seen and/or consider one of your favourites? Whenever it was - or going to be - I hope it’s as special to you as mine was to me.